Task Palatability, But Not Structure, Differentially Influences Mother–Child Interactions in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Children With and Without Oppositional Defiant Disorder


Chaya B. Gopin, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, 270-05 76th Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY 11040, USA. E-mail: cgopin@nshs.edu



To assess whether preschoolers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) behave differently during mother–child interaction tasks as a function of task palatability and whether differences are associated with the presence of comorbid oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).


Typically developing, ADHD, and ADHD + ODD children and their mothers participated in digitally recorded interactions, which included three 5-min tasks, differing in level of palatability/engagement and parental structure (Free Play Task = highly engaging, not structured; Paper and Pencil Task = not engaging, highly structured; Duplo Task = highly engaging, structured).


Mixed ANOVAs revealed that positive engagement, but not structure, differentially improved the behaviour of children with ADHD + ODD.


Although ADHD and ODD are associated with more negative behaviours during the mother–child interaction, those with comorbid ADHD + ODD exhibit differentially greater impairment during relatively boring tasks. Implications for treatment are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.